This One Summer Novel by Mariko Tamaki




The beginning of this book is when Rose, the main character, dives into her bed as if she were diving off a dock. The end of the book shows Rose and her friend digging a hole big enough to hold both in it and posing for one last photo together - that's how she wants to remember this summer.  In between those events, nature is drawn with preposterous skill by Jillian Tamaki who proves capable of enveloping Rose without any help from herself. Big summer-night skies filled with stars and moonlight hang overhead like they will never set again while during the day there are huge amounts pouring down raindrops over puddles drop after drop creating vines which grow around all vegetation giving life an overripe feeling at times full of hysteria (anxiety). One summer, Rose and her friends are on a quest to find the boy they love while they explore the possibilities of life. This One Summer tells a story that is confronting difficult circumstances in an elegant way through young adult graphic novel. The colorings in this book make it feel as if you are looking at water colors against sketches of people - immersing yourself into their world. Immersion is This One Summer's strength, as well as for the stories that Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki create together which feature children who live outside their comfort zone with no choice but to swim or sink? 


Rose is a teenager who spends the summer in a small rural beach town. She reunites with her friend, Windy and together they watch horror movies and develop crushes on people older than them. One day at the convenience store, an incipient scandal involving Rose's crush occurs when it gets out that he has been sleeping with his girlfriend's best friend-Windy moves away from Rose which forces them to talk about sex over Skype.  

The entire summer was not as great as she had thought it would be so she leaves her home to start anew somewhere else where there are no reminders of what happened this year through unknown country roads. Meanwhile, conflicts between Evan and Alice reach the point of low-key estrangement. With alternately harsh and cold Alice appearing to bear the lion's share of blame, things are no longer like they once were. As both storylines progress, it becomes increasingly apparent that setting is apt - which Tamaki nails in every particular! From totemic power of housewares seen only once a year to how our town seems comforting because there is always context yet intimidating because we're not familiar with it - they nail everything here!  A sequence where Rose stares down at afternoon sun when she gets on her nerves sums this up: "the sun ain't going nowhere" so neither will you!

 

 The Tamakis are to be applauded for their depiction of Alice, who is not a monster. She's drawn with such vividness that you can't help but notice her hair - cut at an awkward length and swept back over a high forehead- which subtly suggests she has things on her mind.  Her wiry physicality connects with Rose's crush, the lanky teenage convenience store clerk Dunc as well as with Rose herself and sets them apart from each other in terms of body type: where one is more curvy than the other two males in this family unit.  The John Lennon glasses easily become blank white circles; combined with his tendency to talk while facing away it makes eye contact difficult and fleeting connection craved by both parties when they do look at each other during conversations.  All these details are reflected in story itself, which treats Alice needs to have some needs different then those just pertaining only to her childs'.It's always refreshing to see a comic about teens that was created by and for teens, which is why this comic deserves praise. The author of the story treats even difficult grown-up characters with empathy and respect - something parents should try since they're often treated as mortal sins in comics geared towards adults. 


It also has enough regard for its adolescent characters (let alone its audience) to depict them as jerks in a non-rote emotional-crime-doesn't-pay manner.Dunc is a truly jolie-laid crush object, with features that are too huge and angular by half, yet the attractiveness of his near-adult body's sinew and sweat is instantly visible, never more so than in a two-page, two-image sequence of him standing on his bike pedals, pumping them up and down. His enthusiastic, though slightly patronising, compassion to Windy and Rose, however, gives way to his near-unforgivable behaviour toward them.(if reasonable) desertion of his fiancée when they get into the usual kind of problems. 


It also has enough regard for its adolescent characters (let alone its audience) to depict them as jerks in a non-rote emotional-crime-doesn't-pay manner.Dunc is a truly jolie-laid crush object, with features that are too huge and angular by half, yet the attractiveness of his near-adult body's sinew and sweat is instantly visible, never more so than in a two-page, two-image sequence of him standing on his bike pedals, pumping them up and down. His enthusiastic, though slightly patronising, compassion to Windy and Rose, however, gives way to his near-unforgivable behaviour toward them.(if reasonable) desertion of his fiancée when they get into the usual kind of problems.Rose, on the other hand, instinctively sides with Dunc, slamming the girl in front of Windy and fabricating complex and obviously fake stories about her cuckolding him. So takes a lot of guts to depict your hero being petty without blatantly stating it.


Unfortunately, that highly tuned sense of subtlety isn't maintained throughout. If we are to believe its authors, immersion is indeed the book's strength. However, it's easy to see why they'd be tempted to have their climax take place underwater: Offshore, two main storylines converge-this happens in most or all stories on occasion; real life seldom does.  When driven either by suicide or alcohol because Dunc had rejected her (because he'd rejected her), Jenny runs from her friends and swims out too far for a safe return back home fully dressed in clothes and with shoes still on--a black silhouette against what little of the lake was lit by moonlight at that time.  Rose called for help when she saw this as well as Jenny disappearing into depths up ahead where Alice also dived down after having run full-tilt towards them both (her legs a white streak going off into murky waters gone dark) but could only find so much before returning without success; 

  Unfortunately these finely tuned subtleties don’t quite make it throughout the entire story—the very same can be said if we have faith in what is written here as one of this story‘s strengths being immersion within its pages .


However, striving for a grand narrative here is extraneous to the book's pleasures, even if it would (duh) have been substantially improved if it had succeeded. Jillian's painting is like Proust's madeleine throughout This One Summer, bringing to light half-forgotten memories with great sensory strength. Summer is built around sleepovers and wet swimming suits, sex talk and Friday the 13th, candy and corn on the cob, debilitating crushes, and the inexorable approach of autumn in the Tamakis' work.  That's more than enough to remember it by.



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